Roman Gods & Goddesses
Many planets in our solar system, like Venus and Neptune, are named after Roman gods! The Roman Empire was one of the largest ancient civilizations, lasting over 1000 years. During this period, they worshipped over 60 gods and goddesses!
The Romans had gods for everything – from Jupiter for lightning, to Sterculius for poop! They believed praying to different gods would bring good luck. Here, we’ll look at some important Roman gods and goddesses.
12 Main Roman Gods
The 12 major Roman Gods were called the Council of Gods. They were:
Jupiter / Zeus
God of the Sky, Lightning, and Thunder
King of the Gods and God of Law and Order, Jupiter was the protector of Rome. Soldiers would pray at his temple after winning battles. He was Juno’s husband and brother of Neptune and Pluto. He held a thunderbolt which he could shoot from the sky to create lightning and thunder. His sacred animal was the eagle and his sacred tree was oak.
Juno / Hera
Goddess of Women and Fertility
Queen of the Gods, Juno was also a protector of Rome. She’s often shown holding a scepter. The month of June is named after her. She was the mother of Mars and Vulcan. She is associated with pomegranates, symbolizing marital love. Her sacred animal was a peacock.
Neptune / Poseidon
God of the Sea
God of the Waters, was worshipped for being the father of all living things on Earth, as he controlled rainwater. He’s the creator of the horse. He held a trident, which he could strike to create springs of water. He was married to Salacia, Goddess of Saltwater.
Minerva / Athena
Goddess of Wisdom, Learning, Arts, and Industry
Goddess of Wisdom, Arts, and Strategic War, her sacred animal was the owl and her sacred tree was the olive. Minerva is believed to have sprung fully grown and armed from Jupiter’s forehead. Along with Jupiter and Juno, she was worshipped as part of the Triad in special temples. She was the inventor of the chariot and the flute.
Mars / Aries
God of War
God of War and the most important military god, Mars held a spear that was said to tremble when war was near. He was the father of Remus and Romulus, Rome’s founders. His sacred animal was the wolf. The month of March is named after him.
Venus / Aphrodite
Goddess of Love and Beauty
Goddess of Passion and Desire, Venus was the most beautiful Goddess. She was Cupid’s mother and Vulcan’s wife. Brides offered her gifts before marriage. Romans celebrated the festival of Veneralia to honor her.
Apollo / Apollo
God of Music, Archery, Healing, Poetry, and Truth
God of Archery, Music, and Dance, Prophecy, the Sun, and more, Apollo was Jupiter’s son and Diana’s twin brother. He had a golden lyre, whose seven strings represented the seven planets. He’s often shown carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows.
Diana / Artemis
Goddess of Hunting, Archery, and Animals
Goddess of Hunting and the Moon, Diana’s sacred animal was the deer and her sacred tree was cypress. She’s often shown with a crescent moon on her head. She was given a pack of hunting dogs by Pan, God of Forests. During her festival of Nemoralia, it was forbidden to hunt and kill animals.
Vulcan / Hephaestus
God of Blacksmiths and Volcanoes
God of Inventions and Fire, including volcanoes and a blacksmith’s forge, Vulcan was the craftsman of the Gods and created all their weapons. For forging the thunderbolt, Jupiter married him to Venus. He was associated with a hammer and anvil.
Mercury / Hermes
God of Travelers and Tradesmen
God of Travel, Commerce, and Communication, Mercury was the messenger of the Gods. He’s often depicted wearing winged sandals, allowing him to fly and deliver messages. He also served as the guide of souls to the Underworld. Apollo gave him a magic staff called a caduceus.
Ceres / Demeter
Goddess of Agriculture, Harvest, and the Seasons
Goddess of Agriculture and Nature, Ceres looked after Earth’s fertility. She was associated with poppies and wheat. She was the mother of Proserpina, Pluto’s wife. She often held a cornucopia, a large horn containing grains and flowers to signify abundance. Romans celebrated the festival of Cerealia to honor her.
Vesta / Hestia
Goddess of Hearth and Home
Goddess of the Hearth and Family, Vesta was depicted as the fire in her temple. She was a guardian of the Romans and only her priestesses were allowed to enter her temple. Her festival Vestalia was an important holiday. She was the sister of Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto.
Other Interesting Roman Gods
- Pluto, God of Death and the Underworld and Jupiter and Neptune’s brother
- Proserpina, Goddess of the Underworld and Pluto’s wife
- Saturn, God of Wealth and Time and father of Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto
- Bacchus, God of Wine, Festivity, and Theatre
- Janus, God of Doors, Beginnings, and Endings, usually shown with two faces
- Flora, Goddess of Flowers and Spring
- Fauna, Goddess of Animals and Wildlife
- Hercules, half-mortal God of Strength and Jupiter’s son
- Cupid, God of Love and son of Venus and Mars, whose arrows can make people fall in love
- Aesculapius, God of Medicine and Healing and Apollo’s son
- Victoria, Goddess of Victory, especially in war
The Origin of Roman Mythology
Roman mythology begins with the story about the birth of Rome. Mars had twins, Romulus and Remus, who were banished by King Amulius to die. Raised by a she-wolf, they grew up to remove King Amulius and create a new city, but could not decide where. A massive fight ended with Romulus killing Remus. In victory, Romulus named the new city Rome after himself.
Roman vs Greek Mythology
Initially, Rome and Greece were neighboring civilizations, but later Rome captured Greece. Romans borrowed from and re-interpreted Greek mythology. All major Roman gods are simply renamed Greek gods, although some like Janus are original.
While Greek gods were given human features and personalities, Roman gods were considered divine. Rituals were also more important to Romans than the Greeks, and they celebrated a lot of religious festivals as official holidays.